New App for the world’s poorest

entrepreneurship india

A little-known low-tech phone technology allows images to be sent as bitmaps in text messages. This technology opens up the world of applications to the bottom billion and allows them to participate in crowdsourcing tasks.

Experts agree that when it comes to mobile communications, there is still a lot of room for innovation in the world’s poorest areas. In Bangalore, researchers from the University of Toronto and Microsoft are currently developing a new business model for phone owners by adapting a protocol that can receive pictures as bitmapped text messages. This technology could readily be used in the roughly 1.5 billion low-end phones in circulation.

The technology is supposed to be used to crowdsource the task of digitizing handwritten documents word by word. It’s an easy task that could then be done by anyone that owns a low-end phone. The model of phone-sourcing has the potential to provide substantial income for people at the bottom of the pyramid.

In a 5-week pilot test in Kannada, a region four hours from Bangalore, 239 users completed 64,000 tasks, for a total of 25,000 digitized words in a handwritten document that had been chopped into thousands of images of individual words.

The usage of displaying images on text messages could also be the starting point for several future innovations, ranging from simple games to educational tasks.

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